So 3 days after the lost-found-had-to-give-him-back Lewis adventure, I started hinting to Andy that I miss the cute little face and we should please please please get a kitten. Attempts to convince him included emails like this one ‘meow hi Andy, I’m a tiny kitten, meow, please adopt me and I will love you meow’. The only reason he was so skeptical about the kitten idea was because he thought cats need to be able to go outside. Since we don’t have a garden, or even a terrace, that was it. No kitten, no meowing, no little face to greet us every night. But wait a minute: should cats really not be kept indoors all the time? Since I am not an expert myself, all I can base my judgment on is a thorough online research. So here we go…
There is a fair bit of debate online on this topic. Many people are not really comfortable with the idea of cats being kept only indoors, although the weight is shifting more and more in this direction. But apparently, keeping a cat indoors is not bad at all. Actually, it may even help them live longer, healthier and better. The outdoors are full of fun stuff for cats: grass to roll in, birds to chase, trees to climb… but also full of risks: theft, poison, traffic, risk of injury (cars, fights with other cats), contacting disease from other animals, parasites, and cruel people.
Ok, so I get the longer, better, healthier living part, but won’t my cat miss out on all the fun by living indoors all the time? Yes, and no. It really depends on you. You see, cats like to be in control of their own activities: hunting, hiding, climbing or whatever they’re doing. If you ensure they can do that indoors, you’ll provide for behavioral needs they would naturally fulfill outside. You can do quite a lot to ensure their (and your) life is fun, safe & healthy indoors:
- Keep them occupied: get a scratching post, kitty trees, aerobic centers, enough interesting toys (you can even do them yourself), make sure they have access to a window to look out of, some places to hide
- Cats like high places, as it gives them a sense of security and control. A high place to climb up / down and jump from will also help them exercise. Anything will do really: a high scratching post, an acrobatic center, the top of the cupboard or wardrobe
- Spend some time each day playing with them: it’s fun, releases some of their never-ending energy and it will bond the two of you
- Get a second cat – this is a tricky one, but if you can have two cats, it’s usually a good idea (some breeds are more independent than others), as they will keep each other company even when you’re not around
The conclusion is, given sufficiently stimulating environment, cats can be very happy indoors and have a longer, healthier life. And I certainly want that for my cat.
Is your cat an indoor or an outdoor cat?